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    Reunions and Reconnections

    By Carolina Fernandez     

    “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” Victor Hugo Just one image of a tearful reunion validates the importance of human connections. We saw plenty of them after the 9/11 tragedy: frantic phone calls finding displaced loved ones; hospital visits locating injured and missing family; and the gift of time healing injuries and trauma of the highest order resulting in reunions of hope and harmony. All reunions bringing to life the love and laughter of the living.

    Katrina has brought over two hundred of her own thus far. Our televisions bring these into our evening sofa ritual, rounding out the otherwise extraordinary degree of human suffering which we’ve witnessed as fearful bystanders over the course of these past two painful weeks.

    Few things grip me more than watching the strong embrace of a reunion. Be it husband to wife, mother to child or friend to friend: the call to human love-—after love of our Creator-—is our highest calling. And when one hasn’t seen someone for awhile, or when the embrace is unexpected from fear of the unthinkable, that embrace is of the sweetest kind.

    This weekend held my high school reunion a few hundred miles from home, and I contemplated attending until one of my dearest friends from my old hometown asked if she could come and visit for a few days during the exact same time. It would be a reunion of our own, as we had not seen each other for almost two years. Because we talk often on the phone, and email each other even more frequently, we were totally up to speed with each other’s lives. No new earth-shattering tidbits to unload; no new revelations to explore; no new experiences to reveal other than those of the previous week.

    Morning coffee on the deck brought us both up-to-date on girlfriend chatter-—what with the seventy-degree near-perfect weather we’ve enjoyed, it could not have been a more perfect way to start the day—-and mutual friends’ comings and goings were put back on my radar screen, as were accounts of our friend’s kids, spouses, and in-laws and outlaws. Long walks and leisurely lunches in cafes normally reserved for birthdays and anniversaries; long car rides scouting out destinations heretofore reserved for special occasions; and late night pillow talk shared only once every couple of years…all accumulated into a memorable reunion with one of my favorite people in the world. And a spur-of-the-minute decision to go into New York City on Saturday could only be described to my husband-—who I did not see until Sunday morning—-as “imagine two giggly school-girls on MasterCard.” We smiled our way down Fifth Avenue with exceptionally good behavior, being ever-mindful of how much damage we really could inflict with plastic if we weren’t truly careful.

    It is embarrassing to admit that I had not seen my own sister-in-law and her two children for about eight years until a reunion brought them to our home in Connecticut in July. That same week brought my cousin, whom I hadn’t embraced for seventeen years. I “scored” only slightly better with my own brother, whom I had seen two years ago when we lived in a home one house back.

    Relocating to five different homes within four years-—corporate creatures we are-—has certainly exacted its toll. It’s a human toll. Oh sure: furniture always gets banged up during a move. Small items get lost (I still haven’t found three much-needed lampshades and we’ve been totally out of boxes for two years.) Carpets and wood floors get stained and scratched. Small pieces of jewelry slip out of boxes and bone china slips past road-weary fingers, getting cracked and chipped in the process.

    But the human toll is far greater. Keeping human connections on solid footing while that magic carpet is being pulled out from under you requires near super-human strength indeed. What with calendars getting tossed into the garbage by the moving company’s (and moving boxes’) mandate; finances getting realigned by repairs, reconfigurations and renovations; and energy zapping hopes of artistic creation and recreation (or even procreation, for that matter.)...travel to far-flung family and friends could only be described as pure luxury.

    But reuniting with my long-lost family has given me pause. It’s forced me to think of ways in which I can mesh the overwhelming nature of motherhood: baseball, tennis and football practices and games; violin lessons and orchestra rehearsals; teacher conferences and school Open Houses; community volunteerism and church lay speaking; laundry stains and grocery line queues; vocabulary drills and middle school essay reviews...with the demands of keeping human connections on course. It’s forced me to think of ways in which I can keep friendships developed across five state lines intact, as well as ways in which I can grow those blossoming in my own backyard.

    As the images of Katrina unfold this week, reunions of joy heighten our otherwise downtrodden spirits. The overwhelming nature of my own little world along with the overwhelming nature of this new world order, filled with memories of 9/11 along with tragedies in Madrid and London; the Asian tsunami along with fears of Ophelia; Iraq and Afghanistan; SARS and bird flu; $3 a gallon gasoline and the impending heating oil crises; leukemia and chemo: the dizzying complications of both first-world and third-world countries leave me feeling at once hopeless, hapless and helpless. In the end, it is family and friends-—reunions and reconnections—-which make creating a life worth living worth all of the effort which that entails.

    Written by Carolina FernandezRate this article:

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